Team Montenotte Hotel claimed the Women’s National Cup in dramatic fashion after a 93-87 overtime win against UL Huskies at the NBA in Tallaght.
The atmosphere inside the National Basketball Arena was electric as spectators bore witness to a classic.
Montenotte got off to the perfect start by taking the game to the Huskies and were rewarded for doing so when Claire Rockwell burst forward on three separate occasions to give her team an early lead.
A series of fouls by Montenotte saw momentum briefly shift to the Huskies when Cathy Grant and Fiona Lynch combined to open up the Montenotte defence which resulted in a series of baskets for the Limerick side.
Montenotte were made to pay for continuous fouling of their opponents when a couple of free throws converted by Aoife McDermott gave the Huskies the lead for the first time in the game, against the run of play.
A series of three pointers either side of the first and second quarter by Amanda O’ Regan and the Dwyer sisters once again put Montenotte in front as their long distance shooting quickly opened up a 10-point gap between the sides.
The Huskies struggled to cope with the relentless lightening quick attacking style of their opponents, and their attack didn’t fare much better either as time after time the Montenotte defence easily closed them down with Louise Galvin and Rachael Vanderwal being the only players to score for the Huskies besides McDermott.
The dominant display by the Cork side was enough to see them edge out their opponents by 12 points as the first half drew to a close.
A superb performance by Montenotte’s Claire Rockall wasn’t enough to prevent a surging comeback from the Huskies at the beginning of the third period as the reigning champions bombarded their opponents basket with enough drive and conviction to draw the game level.
Further teamwork from the Dwyer sisters briefly put the flagship team of Glenair basketball Club back into the lead until a total of seven free throws accurately convert by Rachael Clancy gave the Huskies a single point lead heading into the final quarter.
A floury by Montenotte point guard Aine McKenna period saw the team from Cork hit back to draw level after the Huskies had increased their lead thanks to baskets by Galvin and Olympian Vanderwal at the beginning of the fourth quarter.
McKenna scored 14 points in quick succession to bring the game into overtime, but not before a controversial decision by the referee prevented Montenotte from winning the game in normal time as he judged that a last minute basket by the Cork side had not beaten the buzzer.
In the end it mattered very little as baskets from the games MVP Grainne Dwyer were sufficient enough to see Montenotte go on to win the game and the National Cup.
This match marked the first of what will be three appearances for Team Montenotte’s Sarah Kenny this weekend.
The forward will also feature for Glanmire Ladies on both Saturday and Sunday in the U18 and U20 National Cup Finals, both of which will be against Singeton SuperValu Brunell. This will be the first time a player has ever played three different Cup Finals at three different age levels.
A victory for the Huskies would have meant that they would have become only the second team to win six National Cup titles, but their defeat means that they will have to wait until next year to try and equal that record.